Traditionally, sports and athletics have been limited to males. Recalling as far back as the Grecian Olympics, public sporting events have afforded men both fame and fortune while women have been either completely excluded from play or forced to play under male rules. Until recently, male athletes and the general public have viewed successful female athletes as exceptions to the widespread rule that women cannot and should not compete along side men in traditionally male sports. Females who chose to be athletic were required to follow the examples of male athletes that were already established and accepted by both the sports community. Consequently, female athletes were confined to a narrow and rigid expression of physical ability. There were no female standards to follow until a few women were able to perform at or above the performance level of their male opponents. But the reactions these women received were a mix between awe and disbelief. The public was in awe because women were performing the physical activity that was thought to damage their reproductive organs. And as a result, the public was in disbelief because women were excelling in these activities. They had stepped out of the traditionally narrow playing field and defied the commonplace idea that women would hurt themselves if they engaged in physical activity. What is most important about these women is that they began to show the world that females could and should be involved in sports. But there was no female arena to play in. Consequently, they were forced to enter male sports and perform by male standards.
Once more women began to challenge these gender standards, the popularity of women’s sports grew. But the develop...
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...nce. As a result, males who enter traditionally female sports are considered women or only able to compete at a woman’s level. I believe that the difficulty male athletes face when involved in female sports such as field hockey or synchronized swimming illuminates the socially constructed gender bias still prevalent in sports today. But I would like to think that these male athletes would benefit from the progress that female athletes have already made. The pioneering women who showed the public that they were capable of crossing gender boundaries in sports have demonstrated that gender stereotypes in sports are not necessarily accurate. While ideas about masculinity are just as difficult to topple as ideas about femininity, the first public athletes have opened door of opportunity for females and have forced everyone to rethink stereotypes about gender and sports.
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